Timely immunization of infants and children is a cornerstone of public health in both developed and developing nations. Advances in vaccinology and efforts to get kids immunized over the past 30 years have led to impressive worldwide gains in protecting children from vaccine-preventable diseases. But in recent years, parental concerns about vaccine safety have grown in the U.S. and abroad, resulting in delayed or skipped immunizations. When fewer children are immunized, more people are at risk of dangerous infectious diseases, resulting in higher costs to public health, medical systems, and families.
While Washington State made improvements in immunization rates for children birth to 24 months, in 2012 4.6% of our kindergarteners were exempted from one or more vaccines, and Washington has the fifth highest exemption rate in the country. Additionally, more than a dozen counties have an exemption rate over 10%, putting all communities in Washington at risk for vaccine preventable disease.
Why this is important: Below are links to recent Washington specific data about immunization rates and disease outbreaks, as well as a literature review defining the characteristics of vaccine-hesitant individuals, along with the challenges, opportunities, and existing projects in the field of vaccine hesitancy research:
For more information and resources about immunization visit the Resources page.